Loved ones remember hiker killed in 'horrific' fall from Oahu trail

Authorities ID hiker who died after falling off east Oahu trail
Published: Apr. 1, 2018 at 6:02 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 3, 2018 at 6:00 AM HST
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(Image: Lexis Sweeney)
(Image: Lexis Sweeney)

EAST OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 24-year-old who fell about 400 feet while hiking Olomana Trail on Easter Sunday was trying to retrieve a fallen hat, friends said.

The hiker was identified as Nathan Stowell.

Stowell fell while from the third peak of Mount Olomana on Sunday morning.

He was located near the base of the peak at 12:16 p.m., according to Fire Captain Kevin Mokulehua. By the time rescuers reached him, he was unconscious, without a pulse, and not breathing.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

His sister said the family is living a nightmare.

"I thought it was a sick April Fools' joke to be honest with you. My baby brother is 24 years old and he's dead," said Lexis Sweeney.

Sweeney said Stowell was Facetiming with their other sister while he was on the first peak. She says her family is still trying to make sense of his tragic death.

"My brother died doing what he loved but it was literally a horrific accident," Sweeney said.

Andrew Compean said he missed a Facetime call from Stowell that morning and still can't believe he's gone.

"I'm still kind of in denial. I feel that I'm just going to see him tomorrow, because we had so much planned. He's 24 years old. He had a future and there was a nice place for him in the future with everything that we're doing with the company and he was an intricate part of that. It's just crazy to think that we have to do it without him," Compean said.

Compean met Stowell five years ago, when Stowell first moved to Hawaii from Arizona. The two worked together at Handy Andy Hawaii and Compean says they were more like brothers. Compean's father, Jim Keener, took Stowell in as a son.

"A lot of times you hear people say, 'This one's special.' But he really was special and I just want the world to know how special he really was," said Keener.

The trail on Mount Olomana is not sanctioned by the state. Officials have been trying to stop the spread of online videos luring people to the steep ridges of the Koolau mountain range.

"I've seen in that there seems to be a spike in either injuries or in this case fatalities. More and more it's in areas that are not managed, not sanctioned, out-of-bounds kind of areas," said state Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell.

Stowell's loved ones say they aren't focusing on how he died, but remembering him for how he lived -- driven to make the world a better place.

"He definitely impacted my life for the better. He's the person who I set my standards to," said Tony Markham, another coworker who looked to Stowell as a brother.

Stowell's death serves as a reminder that hikers should know their limits and practice safety while outdoors.

"You should be an experienced hiker. You need to have a certain amount of physical conditioning, because you are climbing almost the entire time," Barney Griggs, spokesperson for the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club said. "Novices have no business being on that hike."

The Olomana Trail does have a deadly record.

"I don't want to believe it. I'm still kind of in denial, I feel that I'm just going to see him tomorrow," said Andrew Compean, Stowell's hanai brother.

In 2015, a Florida visitor died after falling 200 feet while hiking between the first and second peaks.

Honolulu firefighter Mitch Kai died in 2014 after tumbling 50 feet between the second and third peaks. And in 2011, Ryan Suenaga lost his life after a 150-foot fall between the second and third peaks.

Stowell's families want to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support.

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